What will the wasp plague be like this year?

This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “The long-term population dynamics of common wasps in their native and invaded” by Phil Lester et al.

New research from Victoria University of Wellington has revealed the population of the common wasp is amplified by spring weather, with warmer and drier springs often meaning more wasps and wasp stings in summer. Continue reading

Video: Animal host–microbe interactions special feature open call – find out more

Deadline EXTENDED to 20 January 2017!

Animal Ecology In Focus

There is only one month to go before the open call for papers for the special feature on animal host-microbe interactions closes. In this video Executive Editor Ken Wilson chats about what types of papers he is looking for and why he believes this topic is going to be a growth area in the future.

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Get the BES moving! BES Movement Ecology Special Interest Group Launch

movement-sigMovement is fundamental to organismal life and constitutes the mechanistic link explaining the patterns observed in many ecological processes. Measures of animal movement, e.g. dispersal, residence time, home range size and overlap, form the basis of fundamental ecology theories and are essential for managing wildlife populations or predicting disease transmission rates. Hence research on the patterns, causes and consequences of the movement of organisms has pervaded all fields of ecology, as reflected by the large number of movement-related publications in the BES Journals, including Special Features (e.g. see here) and Virtual Issues. This wide-ranging, cross-disciplinary and highly popular field of research has recently been conceptually unified under the term ‘Movement Ecology’ and we are very excited to launch the new BES Movement Ecology Special Interest Group (SIG) this week at the Annual Meeting in Liverpool!

We aim to (i) act as a central forum to unite researchers and help clarify conceptual and methodological misconceptions, (ii) attract new Movement Ecology researchers, from within and outside the discipline of ecology and biosciences and (iii) guide the development of novel research, especially interdisciplinary research combining technical, computational, and theoretical developments to obtain a refined understanding of the role of organism movements in driving ecological processes. To do so, we will organise regular meetings, workshops and training initiatives, and online and ‘in vivo’ events.

Now, some of you may ask ‘why yet another SIG?’. We strongly believe that it fills a quite ‘empty SIG niche’! So, it could certainly be argued that existing BES SIGs include several aspects of movement ecology – such as the Quantitative Ecology, Conservation Ecology or Aquatic Ecology SIGs – but none has a remit broad enough to encompass the wide range of issues included in Movement Ecology. For example, the development of novel statistical or computational methods is a crucial aspect of Movement Ecology and is certainly the purview of the Quantitative Ecology SIG, yet studies investigating behavioural strategies or sensory capacities of moving animals or bacteria are not. Quantifying animal movements is a key part of many management plans, hence would fall under the remit of the Conservation SIG, but not so the development of the novel tagging and biologging technology which is currently revolutionizing the field, or the development of theoretical frameworks unifying movement processes of animals, plants and microbes. As such, we aim to attract and unite researchers from cross-disciplinary fields, including physics, mathematics, conservation, engineering, geography and sports science.

What we plan to do?

In general, we aim to provide a basis for regular communications and discussions through a dedicated blog that we aim to launch with guest posts by group members and movement ecology researchers. We will set up also an email list, complemented by a Twitter feed and Facebook  group, each featuring news, group activities (including discussions on specific topics), job and training opportunities. We are also planning to set up an annual competition for best graphical/video representation of movement ecology principlaes/data/findings. Most importantly, we are all open to your suggestions!

A key feature will be an annual workshop meeting. For example, this will allow us to introduce new quantitative and analytical methods and provide training in the computational approaches and statistical theory necessary to implement these methods to their fullest. Other ideas include public engagement activities to divulgate research finding, for example by collaborating with ‘Pint of Science’, ‘Soapbox Science’, Quirks & Quarks in Canada, the NPR’s Science Friday in the US, and similar initiatives in Australia and New Zealand. On a longer term, we plan to host a “Questions, Tools and Theory for Movement Ecology” workshop open to all levels that addresses topics including (i) the development of novel sensor technology, (ii) ‘big data’ methods to process the large amounts of movement data collected by new technologies, and (iii) the development of novel mathematical and statistical frameworks to accommodate the biological information provided by new technologies (a key topic hampering progress in the field). Similarly, we would like to organize a dedicated early career workshop on the theme of “Movement Ecology: From Individual Movements to Ecosystem Consequences”, aimed at PhDs, post-doctoral associates, and Early Career Fellows.

So join us this year at #BES2016 for our launch event on Tuesday evening before the gala dinner, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Keep an eye out for #BESmove as we share exciting new projects and research at this year’s annual conference. And, most importantly, get involved! We will also be looking for student representatives (we’re looking at you, undergraduate and graduate movement ecologists!), and for new members ready to explore the implications of movement for their research projects. We look forward to seeing you at #BES2016 – and afterwards!

Luca Börger; Samantha Patrick; Theoni Photopoulou; Jonathan Potts; Garrett Street; Marie Auger-Méthé; Hawthorne Beyer; Hamish Campbell

Earlier nesting by generalist predatory bird is associated with human responses to climate change

robpbk9o2086-editThis post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Earlier nesting by generalist predatory bird is associated with human responses to climate change by Shawn H. Smith et al.

Milder winters have led to earlier growing seasons and noticeable effects on the breeding habits of some predatory birds, according to research by Boise State biologists Shawn Smith and Julie Heath, in collaboration with Karen Steenhof, and The Peregrine Fund’s Christopher McClure. Continue reading

Video: Animal host–microbe interactions special feature open call – find out more

There is only one month to go before the open call for papers for the special feature on animal host-microbe interactions closes. In this video Executive Editor Ken Wilson chats about what types of papers he is looking for and why he believes this topic is going to be a growth area in the future.

Continue reading

Competitive males are a blessing and a curse

jae-2016-00123-r2-2This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Sexual selection can both increase and decrease extinction probability: reconciling demographic and evolutionary factors” by Carlos Martínez-Ruiz and Robert J. Knell Issued by Queen Mary, University of London Press Office.

Showy ornaments used by the male of the species in competition for mates, such as the long tail of a peacock or shaggy mane of a lion, could indicate a species’ risk of decline in a changing climate, according to a new study from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). Continue reading

Ecology meets immunology at the biggest insect conference in the world

In late September, as the UK was enjoying the last vestiges of summer I was lucky enough to head to Orlando in Florida where the 25th International Congress of Entomology was being held under the banner of “Entomology without borders”. This year, Orlando welcomed over 7000 delegates working in all areas of entomology; the largest gathering of entomologists at any one time – as far as we know! I first attended this enormous event, held every 4 years, as a young PhD student in 2000, in the beautiful city of Iguassu Falls in southern Brazil. I have been able to attend 3 of the 4 subsequent meetings, and co-hosted a session on Ecological immunology of Insects in each one, first in Brisbane, Australia (2004), then in Durban, South Africa (2008), and finally in Orlando. Much as I would like to have a clean sweep, maternity leave put paid to my plans to attend the 2012 meeting in Seoul, South Korea.


The number of hits for the terms “ecological immunology” or “eco-immunology” in Web of Science from 2000 to 2015. The red dots represent the percentage of papers with the word “ecology” that also used the word “immunology”.

Ecological immunology aims to understand how ecological pressures have shaped the evolution and expression of the immune system.  In 2000, this was a very new concept that was just gaining ground in the ecological literature. Over the last 16 years this has grown into an established field. A quick search on Web of Science for the terms “Ecological immunology” or “Eco-immunology” shows a steady increase in publications over time. Of course, this does not find all of the papers in the field of eco-immunology, just those that specifically use that term, but it is indicative of how the field has rapidly grown. Continue reading

Research into extreme weather effects may explain recent butterfly decline


Common Blue butterfly. Photo by Dr Aldina Franco.

This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Sensitivity of UK butterflies to local climatic extremes: which life stages are most at risk?” by Osgur McDermott Long et al. Issued by University of East Anglia.


Increasingly frequent extreme weather events could threaten butterfly populations in the UK and could be the cause of recently reported butterfly population crashes, according to research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Researchers investigated the impact of Extreme Climatic Events (ECEs) on butterfly populations. The study shows that the impact can be significantly positive and negative, but questions remain as to whether the benefits outweigh the negative effects.

While it is well known that changes to the mean climate can affect ecosystems, little is known about the impact of short-term extreme climatic events (ECEs) such as heatwaves, heavy rainfall or droughts. Continue reading

Volume 85:6 a slideshow


Male Montagu’s Harrier Edwin on the hunt for grasshoppers near Djilas, Senegal. Ellinor Schlaich et al. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12583

Issue 85:6 is now online and for the first time we have two In Focus papers in the issue as we no longer want to limit ourselves to championing only one great paper!

The First is by Pedro Jardano and takes a look at the paper by Sazatornil et al. on morphological matches and the assembly of mutualistic hawkmoth–plant networks. The second is by Shawn Wilder and Punidan Jeyasingh and they review the paper by Zhang et al. on how warming and predation risk shape stoichiometry.

To make the most of all the great photos from our authors we have included a slideshow of the best images.

Read the full November 2016 issue here.

Continue reading

Animal host–microbe interactions Special Feature Open call – Only 2 months to go!

There armicrobal-large-web-ade only 2 months left to submit your paper to the Journal of Animal Ecology Special Feature on animal host–microbe interactions. Through this open call, launched by Executive Editor Ken Wilson in June, we aim to open up the process of publishing Special Features by inviting potential authors from emerging fields to contribute. We welcome papers that take differing, or even contrary, viewpoints as we hope to publish a broad spectrum of ideas on animal host–microbe interactions. The Journal has a long history of publishing papers on parasite and disease ecology, as far back as the first issue of the journal in 1932 with a paper by A.D. Middleton on “Syphilis as a disease of wild rabbits and hares” and most recently on the blog we have an excellent post by Associate Editor Andy Fenton on “The role of ecology in managing vector-borne diseases: Zika and beyond”. Continue reading

Drifting birds of prey use predictable winds during migration

European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus soaring in the wind.

European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus soaring in the wind.

This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Seasonal detours by soaring migrants shaped by wind regimes along the East Atlantic Flyway” by Wouter M. G. Vansteelant et al. Issued by University of Amsterdam.

Birds of prey let themselves be carried by predictable winds
At the start of autumn, several billion migratory birds take flight for a long, adventurous journey to Africa. How do they manage to complete this difficult journey successfully year after year? To find out, a team of researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) tracked the behaviour of migrating European honey buzzards using small GPS backpacks. They combined GPS data with meteorological models to show how these migratory birds travel via complicated detours to make use of predictable weather patterns. They do so especially over the Sahara Desert, an inhospitable landscape they need to cross as quickly as possible. Continue reading

Sarah Hoy wins Watson Raptor Science Prize for paper on impact of selective predation

We are delighted to learn that Sarah Hoy has won 2016 Watson Raptor Science Prize for her paper ‘Age and sex-selective predation moderate the overall impact of predators’ published in Journal of Animal Ecology. In the paper Sarah Hoy and colleagues examined selective predation by goshawks on juvenile and female tawny owls, drawing on long-term data to exploit a unique situation where data from a prey species were obtained over a period of Goshawk increase.


Tawny owl Strix aluco

On the paper Senior Editor Jean-Michel Gaillard said: Continue reading

Grizzly Bears Face Ecological Trap

In a recent paper published in the journal Clayton Lamb and colleagues tested for an ecological trap in Southeastern British Columbia where human settlement and grizzly bear habitat overlap. For this paper Clayton has produced an infograhic and slideshow to bring the article to life.



Slideshow Continue reading

What do reviewers want?

Last year’s Peer Review Week proved to be a great success in raising awareness and starting discussions about peer review. This year, it’s back and the focus is on recognition for review.

There have been lots of surveys looking at perceptions of peer review. These surveys agree that peer review is valued and authors feel that the quality of their paper improves as a result. Nature’s annual author survey shows that after the reputation of the journal and relevance to the discipline, the quality of peer review was the third most important factor driving author’s choice of where to submit their article.

For Peer Review Week 2016, I thought I’d take another look at these surveys to see what they tell us about recognition for reviewing activity. I’m concentrating on three big surveys that were carried out in 2015 by Wiley, Taylor and Francis (T&F), and the Publishing Research Consortium (PRC). Sense about Science also conducted a survey in 2009.

243202_final-artwork-700x300-2 Continue reading

What is the future of peer review in ecology?

The Applied Ecologist's blog

Peer review is critical to the research process, but is also the subject of much criticism and debate. Review bias, reviewer recognition and the discovery of peer review rings are recent examples of topics widely discussed by the scientific community. Many peer review models and experiments have emerged across scientific disciplines with the aim of improving the review process, often leading to more questions than answers.


At the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, (Liverpool, 11-14 December) we will be holding a panel debate on the future of peer review in ecology where these issues will be discussed by a panel of experts. The workshop will take the form of a BBC Question Time style debate following on from the success of ‘The Future of Data Archiving panel discussion held at last year’s Annual Meeting. This year we have a great panel of experts, covering a…

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What Makes a Good Peer Review: Peer Review Week 2016 — methods.blog

For many academics, especially Early Career Researchers, writing a review can seem like quite a daunting task. Direct training is often hard to come by and not all senior academics have the time to act as mentors. As this week is Peer Review Week, we wanted to provide some advice on what makes a good […]

via What Makes a Good Peer Review: Peer Review Week 2016 — methods.blog

Peer review week: Encouraging collaborative peer review

Journal of Ecology blog

Post from Managing Editor Emilie Aimé. Check out the methods.blog later in the week for some of the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Associate Editors’ perspective on collaborative peer review.

It’s Peer Review Week 2016 and the BES journals are celebrating with a series of blog posts on how much we value our reviewers.

Here at the BES we love Early Career Researchers. We give out grants to fund their research and training and development and we run and support several training and outreach programmes to help with the fantastic work they do. (Don’t forget to register for the Early Career Workshop at this year’s Annual meeting). Each of our journals also awards an annual prize for the best paper by an Early Career Researcher.

In this post though, we want to focus on Early Career Researchers as reviewers. The BES journals are very keen to give Early Career Researchers…

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Thank you to our reviewers

243202_final-artwork-700x300-2Today marks the start of the Peer Review Week 2016, the theme this year is recognition for review. In 2015 675 individuals from 38 different countries reviewed for the journal, without the time commitment and expertise off all of these people the journal would not be a success. To thank and recognise everybody that has reviewed for us we publish a list of all that have reviewed for us, for peer review week we have republished this list below to thank again everybody that reviewed for us in 2015.

Keep an eye on the blog for more posts for Peer Review Week 2016. Continue reading

The role of ecology in managing vector-borne diseases: Zika and beyond

fenton-aThe recent re-emergence and spread of the Zika virus, coupled with the link to a surge in microcephaly cases, has gripped the attention of the global health community, the general public, and professional golfers alike.  Of course Zika isn’t new – it was first discovered in 1947 – however the scale of the outbreak in 2015 was unprecedented.  Given that there are currently no effective vaccines or medicines against Zika, suggested management efforts have mainly focussed on vector control (e.g. through traditional insecticides, the use of microbes to control pathogens, or genetic manipulation or selective breeding of mosquitoes to reduce vector population sizes or otherwise prevent them from transmitting the virus).  To deploy these vector-targeted methods effectively it is clearly essential to understand vector ecology.  Indeed, recent attempts to explain the patterns of infection and predict the likely number of cases in the future highlight the importance of ecological processes such as: heterogeneities in transmission, the magnitude of herd immunity, seasonality in dynamics, seasonal forcing or other environmental drivers, and the potential for the virus to circulate within reservoir populations etc (see here and here).  Of course, these processes aren’t unique to Zika – they are fundamental aspects of the ecology of any vector-borne infection.  As such these ecological processes have been well studied in many vector-borne disease systems, whether they relate to human diseases or not.This breadth of ecological research across vector disease systems is reflected in a recent Virtual Issue compiled by Wiley including papers from Journal of Animal Ecology and other BES journals. Continue reading

New Associate Editors

Journal of Animal Ecology is pleased to welcome Niels Dingemanse (Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich), Jenny Dunn (RSPB), Andrew Jackson (University of Dublin), Lesley Lancaster (University of Aberdeen), Katie Marske (University of Michigan) and Mariano Rodriguez-Cabal (Universidad del Comahue) to the board of Associate Editors. They have all joined on a three-year term and you can find out more about them below.

Dingemanse, NNiels Dingemanse

Niels is an evolutionary ecologist who works on the interface between behavioural ecology and quantitative genetics. His current research focusses on proximate and ultimate causes and consequences of individuality in average behaviour (‘personality’) and behavioural plasticity, for which he uses wild populations of birds (great tits) and insects (field crickets) as model systems.

Dunn, JJenny Dunn

Jenny’s research interests span a broad range of topics within ecology and conservation, but centre around factors influencing behaviour, and the consequences of behavioural adaptation at both the individual and population levels. She is particularly interested in the sub-clinical impacts of parasitic infection, parasite transmission, the associations between parasitism and behaviour and the implications these may have for populations across generations through delayed life-history effects. Jenny is also fascinated by how multiple stress factors interact in free-living populations, especially those in decline, and the implications these interactions have for the conservation of populations.

Jackson, AAndrew Jackson

Andrew has broad interests in ecology and evolution spanning behavioural ecology and community ecology. His research is primarily focussed around developing mathematical, computational and statistical models to understand the consequences of interactions between individuals and their biotic and abiotic environment. He has no taxa that he calls his own and has recently collaborated on projects involving vultures, turtles and human epidemiology and more and more has been using datasets comprising multiple taxa to draw phylogenetic comparisons. Currently he is working on the evolution of information processing with one hand and developing new statistical methods for stable isotope ecology with the other.

Lancaster, LLesley Lancaster

Lesley is an empirical ecologist interested in understanding how biogeographic processes shape macroecological trait variation, population dynamics, life history evolution, and species interactions. She is also interested in the drivers of and constraints on niche evolution in ectotherms.

Marske, KKatie Marske

Katie’s research integrates comparative phylogeography with other geographical ecology methods to understand historical factors which underlie intraspecific diversification and the formation of species’ geographic ranges, and how these, in turn, contribute to community assembly and the generation of contemporary large-scale biodiversity patterns.  Her research is currently focused on New Zealand beetles and North American amphibians, but Katie has worked with a variety of animal systems.

Rodriguez-Cabal, M compMariano Rodriguez-Cabal

Mariano is a community ecologist with broad interests in the factors that generate, maintain and threaten biodiversity. He uses observational, experimental, meta-analytical and theoretical approaches to understand how the loss of some species and the gain of others influence plant-animal interactions, vertebrate and ant seed dispersers, the diversity and structure of communities, and ecosystem processes.

You can find out about all our Associate Editors here.